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Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Gilbert
Date: November 14, 2017 04:00PM
For Christmas this year, we have decided to take our 3 kids (12, 14, 17) to San Francisco as a family present in lieu of gifts. We will be there for 4 days. I have only been there a couple of times for work. I am looking for recommendations on things to do, areas to stay and whether we should rent a car or not. We will be flying into SFO.

We have briefly talked about going to visit Apple HQ (perhaps on the day we arrive since we get in around 9am and most places don't allow check-in til 3pm, plus from the airport, we are closer than coming from the city). But other than that, I am open to recommendations from those who have been there or live there.

Thanks!

Gilbert
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Speedy
Date: November 14, 2017 04:04PM
Captain obvious here:

Golden Gate Bridge and Park.
The wharf.



Saint Cloud, Minnesota, where the weather is wonderful even when it isn't.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2017 04:04PM by Speedy.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: freeradical
Date: November 14, 2017 04:40PM
You need to tell us what type of things you'd enjoy.

Art Museums?

MOMA
De Young
Legion of Honor


Outdoorsy stuff?

Point Reyes National Seashore.

[www.nps.gov]


Edit: Skip AAPL HQ



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2017 04:41PM by freeradical.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: NewtonMP2100
Date: November 14, 2017 04:41PM
.....not sure if kids will like it but Alcatraz.....



____________________________________________________

I reject your reality and substitute my own!
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: DeusxMac
Date: November 14, 2017 05:09PM
Exploratorium

Cal Academy

Disney Family Museum



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 11/14/2017 05:10PM by DeusxMac.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Gilbert
Date: November 14, 2017 05:30PM
We like aquariums/kid friendly museums and outdoors stuff.

I had thought of Alcatraz after posting. I think they would enjoy it, esp. our son.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: rgG
Date: November 14, 2017 05:50PM
I would not rent a car. Driving and especially parking is awful in SF.
Some hotels charge a fortune to park it, if you have a car, or they did when we were there





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: srf1957
Date: November 14, 2017 05:51PM
A connecting flight to somewhere warmer ?
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Gilbert
Date: November 14, 2017 05:58PM
I recognize it will be cool, but the flights were within our budget.

Quote
srf1957
A connecting flight to somewhere warmer ?
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Microman
Date: November 14, 2017 06:17PM
[www.alcatrazislandtickets.com]

Plan ahead if going to Alcatraz...
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: evilrobot
Date: November 14, 2017 06:32PM
Do:
Exploratorium
Alcatraz - I avoided for years, but it is admittedly awesome
Muir Woods
any of the north coast beaches/shoreline
book an architectural walking tour
California Academy of Sciences
Cable car museum (free)

Meh:
Chinatown, unless you are taking a tour to go off the beaten path
the Wharf, despite all tourist inclinations

I agree with the others, avoid having a car if at all possible - Uber/Lyft/Bart for whatever you are looking to do. A car in SF is a hassle for traffic and expensive parking.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Carm
Date: November 14, 2017 06:38PM
Alcatraz.. first boat is the best, then it gets packed on the island. Golden Gate Bridge walk if so inclined. Wife loved it, but we like to walk.

Car if you plan on going to the mothership or out of the city. San Jose Oakland Etc. Parking is crazy expensive as it is in many large cities.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: bfd
Date: November 14, 2017 06:50PM
Macy's in Union Square used to get all decked out - but it's not so much a thing anymore. Their new Apple Store will likely be shining brightly. Sometimes the hop on-hop off buses can be fun if you don't have much time to explore but still want to at least see a few places up close. You could hop off at Haight Asbury, somewhere in Golden Gate Park, go across the Bridge - all in the same day. Hop off to eat lunch anywhere, then hop back on and continue the trip.

Point Reyes Lighthouse is another level - the drive there and back and the walk down and back up all those steps will likely take a day - but it's definitely worth the day-trip if you have a somewhat active group.

Challenge is that in December, you can depend on it being cold - and quite likely wet. So be prepared. While this year is supposed to be a bit on the la niña side with a warmer and drier winter, no one is sure exactly what that means, since last year was supposed to be la niñaesque, too. Have fun!
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 14, 2017 07:15PM
Agree with almost all.

Alcatraz is cool, but tickets now, sells out. Say away from Pier 39/wharf. Unless you go really early to see/smell the sea lions & before tourists come.

Id also stay way from haight/ashbury unless you were a closet hippy.

You could do Coit tower, (Mamas for breakfast first)

MOMA (just know its near downtown)

Legion/De Young/Science/Disney are all pretty close to each other. We just did the Legion & Disney & MOMA in one day a few weeks ago. Go early, they all close at 5.

Cal Science can take longer if you do the planetarium.

Be prepared for the homeless, they are everywhere. Big camps right on the sidewalk near everywhere, although seems worse south/east of the 101.

Id skip the GGate walk if its foggy.

You can hike all the way to the waters near the Legion, think the lands end labrnyth is still there -- but its all downhill, and bear coming back up. If you want to get close to the water, try the sutro baths, or ocean beach near it. Cliff house is an OK eat, but a bit pricey. Farther down the great highway is beach brewery (or something like that), its better.

Not sure where you are staying bu there are other eating options depedning on what you are close to. Lots of good brewpubs and other holes in the wall.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: flareslow
Date: November 14, 2017 07:16PM
Rent bikes at the Wharf, ride across the Golden Gate to Sausalito, have lunch there, and take the ferry back to the Wharf.

Did that on one visit and had a great time.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Microman
Date: November 14, 2017 07:30PM
Too many bikes on bridge, I saw people having to get off, and walk their bike
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: jonny
Date: November 14, 2017 08:56PM
Quote
evilrobot
Do:
Exploratorium
Alcatraz - I avoided for years, but it is admittedly awesome
Muir Woods
any of the north coast beaches/shoreline
book an architectural walking tour
California Academy of Sciences
Cable car museum (free)

Meh:
Chinatown, unless you are taking a tour to go off the beaten path
the Wharf, despite all tourist inclinations

I agree with the others, avoid having a car if at all possible - Uber/Lyft/Bart for whatever you are looking to do. A car in SF is a hassle for traffic and expensive parking.

What he said, though a Chinatown (Stockton St.)/Northbeach ramble can be nice.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: rgG
Date: November 14, 2017 09:20PM
We did the hop on hop off bus thing for two days, it worked out well for us.
My daughter and I enjoyed Haight Ashbury, mainly just for the vibe.





Roswell, GA (Atlanta suburb)
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Microman
Date: November 14, 2017 11:28PM
Remember it costs about as much to park your car at some of the hotels, as it does for a good dinner.

We were lucky, wife and I and two kids, we found a place that was walking distance to alcatraz boats, and pier 39, etc....And parking was included.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 14, 2017 11:40PM
Quote
rgG
We did the hop on hop off bus thing for two days, it worked out well for us.
My daughter and I enjoyed Haight Ashbury, mainly just for the vibe.

Yeah, since the kids are older, might be more interesting. I was thinking younger, in which case, maybe not so much.

Oh, and the MOMA is 7 floors. it can easily take half a day if you do every floor and take time to "look" at things. We went to see Munch, think hes gone now. Take the stairs. Elevators get packed. And some cool views from the stairwells.

The Disney Museum had an "extra" in another building for more $, skip it.

We were just there, the Satruday before the fires started in Napa, so still fresh in my mind.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: davester
Date: November 14, 2017 11:43PM
Good advice above to not have a car in the tourist zone (financial district, SOMA, etc) of SF, but there are some great things to see in the area that require a car. You might want to get a car for a couple of days for outlying areas and then do the city thing for a couple using BART, Muni, Uber, etc. As a long time SF area resident, here are my recommendations:

Forget Apple HQ! If you get in at 9, and you love aquariums and the outdoors, I would suggest you rent a car and go straight from the airport to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It's 2 hours south of SFO and is absolutely fabulous, vastly better than either of the aquariums in San Francisco, with an epic setting. The drive down is beautiful too. The aquarium opens at 10 so you'd get there only an hour after opening. You could either stay in Monterey or somewhere between SF and there overnight, or drive back to SF when they close at 5 pm (though that would be a long, but rewarding day). A hotel or airbnb would be cheaper than SF too.

If it's not raining or freezing, then renting a bike near Fisherman's Wharf and riding across the GG bridge and taking the ferry back from either Sausalito or Tiburon is really a great thing to do. You do need to have a small level of fitness, and yes, the bridge can get crowded, but it's worth it IMHO. An alternative, certainly less crowded, is to rent bikes and take the ferry to Angel Island then ride around the island or hike to the summit for an amazing view on a clear day.

If you're going to drive north of the Golden Gate, to Muir Woods or environs, driving to the summit of Mount Tamalpais on a clear day provides amazing views...also good hiking. I'd also suggest that you drive down from the summit by going north along Ridgecrest and then down to Fairfax via Fairfax-Bolinas Road (but be careful of bicyclists, one of them might be me!).

Do you like cool old movie theaters? Go to watch a movie at the fabulous Castro Theater, also in the heart of SF's gay scene.

SF has some fantastic art museums, so I'd suggest checking the programs to see if there are any special exhibits worth seeing. The DeYoung, Palace of the Legion of Honor and MOMA are the big ones. Purchase tickets way ahead of time online.

Normally I would recommend the Academy of Sciences and/or Exploratorium, but they will likely be packed to the point of claustrophobia during the holidays. Consider yourself warned. If you do go to the Academy, buy your tickets online so that you won't have to wait in the brutal line to buy tickets on site. Also, get there right when they open and rush in to pick up your free tickets to the planetarium show and rain forest...these often all get snatched up during the first couple of hours.

A very cool thing to do around christmas is to go ice skating at night in Justin Herman Plaza near the ferry building. However, don't fall and break your wrist on the ice (like my wife did one christmas!). Also at the Ferry Building on Tues, Thurs, Sat late morning to 2 pm is an amazingly great farmer's market. Good eats and great people watching! It's a great way to start a stroll along the waterfront too.

Unless you love T-shirt shops and expensive made-in-China souvenirs, I'd avoid the tourist trap epicenter in the vicinity of Pier 39 and Fisherman's Wharf (except for renting a bike and perhaps having some outdoor crab eats at Fisherman's Wharf).

Alcatraz...hmmmm. It'll be December and likely cold in SF, which means more than likely absolutely freezing at Alcatraz. It's pretty interesting to go to in the summertime (and usually pretty chilly then) but I don't think I'd brave it in December...but that's just me.

If you end up in Berkeley where I live, drive up along Grizzly Peak Blvd at sunset for an the best view in the entire area of San Francisco, the GG bridge, and the Pacific Ocean. However, probably not worth the trek over here just for the sunset.



"In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion." (1987) -- Carl Sagan



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 11/15/2017 12:02AM by davester.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: samintx
Date: November 15, 2017 03:48AM
Eat at Tadich's...fish fish fish. sand dabs
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: nwyaker
Date: November 15, 2017 08:21AM
Bay Model in Sausalito

[www.spn.usace.army.mil]

[en.wikipedia.org]
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: A-Polly
Date: November 15, 2017 09:23AM
What kinds of activities does your family enjoy? I'm sure you will have a lovely holiday no matter what you choose to do.

I enjoyed the Presidio area a lot; my son and I went to Disney Family Museum just for the "extra" exhibition: the art & designs of Eyvind Earle (Disney and other), and we found it all breathtaking to view in person. Of course it depends on what you like, but I'd go back in the skinniest of minutes (not cheap, though).

Going to Muir Woods later, we could see how some of his paintings of that area captured the feeling of being amongst those trees. BTW, if you get to Muir Woods early (before 9 am, IIRC) it is free to enter and the crowds won't arrive for a while yet. Makes a big difference!

It was fun to escape the Fisherman's Wharf crowds by trudging through North Beach (stopping to energize with espresso and pastry, and smelling heavenly food along the way) to the wonderful City Lights Bookstore on Columbus: open till midnight every day, even Fourth of July (not sure about Xmas)! [www.citylights.com]


The ferry building was great, and so were the ferries. This summer Lyft was our favorite ground transportation service, although it was fun to ride the vintage street cars along the Embarcadero.

BOOK NOW for Alcatraz — brrrr! I can feel the cold already. The tickets sell out weeks (or even months) in advance.

Quote
jdc
Be prepared for the homeless, they are everywhere.
This is true, I didn't realize just how severe the homeless problem is in the Bay area.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Bo
Date: November 15, 2017 11:57AM
Born and raised here (other than college).

I'd agree with most of the above recommendations. Gonna depend on how much you want to pack in and weather.

These have been covered but I'd put them high on the list:
Alcatraz is well worth it if you can get tickets. Even us locals seem to agree on this.
Hiking/walking around Land's End/Sutro Baths/Baker Beach/Legion of Honor on the city side or the Marin Headlands on the north side of the bridge. Incredible views!
Angel Island- Take the ferry then hike to the top or rent a bike on the island and ride the perimeter.

And a couple others:
Ft. Funston to check out the hangliders if they are flying.
WW2 era batteries and bunkers-these litter the shores on either side of the bridge. As teens we ventured through them all the time. As a father, my son and I have explored them and they are always fascinating. Fort Cronkhite area has some great ones. PM me if you consider this.
Muir Woods is beautiful but is usually bat @#$%& crazy with people. Many other redwood groves on this side of the bridge that you can have to yourself. PM me if this is on your list.

And finally, I'm thrilled to see the recommendations for Cal Academy as I designed many of the exhibits there. Good to see people are enjoying it.

-Bo
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: bruceko
Date: November 15, 2017 12:58PM
Winchester Mystery House in San Jose
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: vision63
Date: November 15, 2017 03:28PM
Quote
jdc
Quote
rgG
We did the hop on hop off bus thing for two days, it worked out well for us.
My daughter and I enjoyed Haight Ashbury, mainly just for the vibe.

Yeah, since the kids are older, might be more interesting. I was thinking younger, in which case, maybe not so much.

Oh, and the MOMA is 7 floors. it can easily take half a day if you do every floor and take time to "look" at things. We went to see Munch, think hes gone now. Take the stairs. Elevators get packed. And some cool views from the stairwells.

The Disney Museum had an "extra" in another building for more $, skip it.

We were just there, the Satruday before the fires started in Napa, so still fresh in my mind.

Walker Evans at SFMOMA.

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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: Gilbert
Date: November 15, 2017 06:06PM
Wow! What great feedback! My wife and I will be looking over all these great recommendations and am sure we can put together a great trip for our family.

Thanks to everyone!
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: jdc
Date: November 15, 2017 06:30PM
Walker Evans was there, it was a pretty big exhibit, we walked thru pretty quick.



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Edited 999 time(s). Last edit at 12:08PM by jdc.
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Re: Trip to San Francisco in December - Looking for suggestions
Posted by: vision63
Date: November 16, 2017 02:17PM
Quote
jdc
Walker Evans was there, it was a pretty big exhibit, we walked thru pretty quick.

I'm a big fan
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